'Manorexia' Is on the Rise

ByABC News via logo

Oct. 7, 2006— -- Medical researchers are discovering that anorexia is not limited to women and that the idea of starving yourself in order to achieve the perfect body is crossing gender lines.

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, the ratio of males suffering from eating disorders may be increasing. While eating disorders are most often associated with women, experts estimate that 1 million American men suffer from anorexia.

One young man who developed anorexia was Craig Laue, who wanted to change his image in high school.

After years of being called the "fat kid," he decided to take control and start shedding the weight.

"You get into high school -- not only did I want be a better athlete, but you want to get attention from girls, and you want to fit in," Laue said. "Everybody else is in shape, and I was always a pudgier kid with glasses."

He started exercising more and eating less, going from 210 pounds to as low as 113 pounds in less than a year.

"By the time baseball tryouts came, I had gotten so low that I eventually was cut from the baseball team because I just -- I didn't have the energy to keep up," Laue said.

"We're certainly seeing more eating disorders in men," said Dr. Arnold E. Anderson, director of the Eating Disorders Unit at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

"Some want to be wiry -- think Mick Jagger. Some want to be lean, muscular Brad Pitt, James Bond," Anderson said. "Some want to be big and chiseled like Arnold [Schwarzenegger], the governor."

While pop culture has flooded impressionable young women for years with glamorous images suggesting thin is in, now it's harder than ever for boys and young men to escape the quest for the perfect body.

"You have these magazines where they're telling you this is the in thing. This is the in thing to wear. This is the way to look. This is the way to wear your hair. This is the way to get your six-pack abs. This is the way to get girls' attention. This is the way to be hunky and sexy," Laue said. "At what cost?"

Even some male celebrities have spoken out about battling anorexia.

Actor Dennis Quaid, who went from 180 to 138 pounds, spoke out in the March issue of "Best Life" magazine.

"For many years, I was obsessed about what I was eating, how many calories it had, and how much exercise I'd have to do," Quaid told the magazine.

"Guys like Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton -- they are in an industry that obviously places a huge premium on image," said Men's Health editor Matt Bean. "I think that's were you start seeing problems coming up for people taking short cuts."

The good news is that when caught early, this disease can be treated with the right medical care.

After getting the proper mental health therapy, Laue gained back much of the weight.

Now at 30 years old, he's a successful radio DJ and a healthy 170 pounds.

"I think some guys' egos -- maybe the macho-ness of not wanting to admit that they have this kind of a problem... It took me a long time to finally be able to talk about it," he said.

Now that Laue has his anorexia under control, he happily counsels others facing the same life-threatening compulsion he once feared discussing.

"If you're going through it and you have a problem, put away the pride," he said. "Put away the ego, and don't be afraid to seek the necessary treatment for it. It's OK. It's fine. Just cause you're a guy doesn't mean, 'I can't ask for help.'"

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